17th century

The Devil’s Bride is a compelling look at 17th century witchhunts

The title, the Devil’s Bride, makes this film sound like a horror movie from the early 70s, and, indeed, a film of the same name was produced then.

But this movie is a horror flick of a different sort: the story of what happens to women who are condemned by men in 17th century Finland. One male character, a circuit judge, is determined to use reasoned thinking to replace superstition, but he is tasked with rooting out the devil, and as such, witches.

So, The Devil’s Bride is about a series of witch hunts. The main character, Anna, is a teenage girl who falls in love with the fisherman husband of a friend. The two embark on an affair, which sours after his wife becomes aware of it and confronts Anna.

Anna, in turn, accuses the wife as a witch to the circuit judge before the court has condemned any witches to death. Once it does, her conscience is stricken and the drama begins.

The film is directed by a woman, Saara Cantell, and has a much different feel from Hollywood films. It’s slow moving in places, but paints it female characters as more than a sluts, crazy women, or a sexy foxes, although all those archetypes are present.

There’s also a definite anti-religious bias, as the priest is a sexual abuser, which is becoming somewhat cliche. He’s a nasty character, though.

The film is in Finnish and Swedish, with English subtitles.

This movie might not sound compelling to a male audience, but it certainly will be to women. Female compassion is center stage, in a world completely controlled by men.

The film is based on true events in the 1660s, when 16 women were convicted of witchcraft on a Finnish island and seven were executed.

The ending is sad, but it’s a fine film.
Grade: B+

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